Film Processing Shopping List
A guide to all the things you will need to start processing your own film.
Almost as much fun as shooting film, film processing is much easier than you think. If you have the time and inclination processing your own film is a very rewarding part of the whole film experience. It’s a great feeling to know you’re in control of the whole operation, from exposure to development, then onto printing or scanning.
Black and White Chemistry
This will, unsurprisingly, develop your latent image. There are many to choose from, and you can find them all here. If you’re new to film processing we recommend the Tetenal Film Chemistry Starter Kit. Alternatively, Fomadon R09 is good value for money. It’s an old formula and very economical.
This, as the name suggests, stops the development process. Not 100% necessary, but does give more control over development time and rinses the developer, keep your fixer less contaminated. Ilford Ilfostop comes in a 500ml bottle and because of it’s high dilution it will last you ages.
Fixer clears all the unexposed film emulsion and fixes the silver in the exposed elements. Fixing time is important as it stabilises the image. Tetenal Superfix Odorless is a popular choice, with the added benefit of no smell, quite nice when processing at home. Fomafix P powder is easy to transport if you are travelling, but you will need to store the solution.
After washing its recommended that you soak your film in the wetting agent for a minute or two, this allows the water to slip off the film more easily and avoids drying marks. All wetting agents are similar, but if you had to chose one we’d go for Kodak Photo-Flo, good size and price.
If you are processing colour film, all the chemistry you need comes in one handy kit. We recommend Tetenal’s C41 kit.
This is where everything happens. You load your film onto the reel and seal it in the light tight tank, all chemicals are poured in and out of the top. Paterson Universal two-reel tanks are a good deal as you get two film reels included. All the processing can be done in daylight. Loading, however, must be done in complete darkness, which brings us to our next item…
Unless you have access to a darkroom, a changing bag is a flexible and compact space to load film. The developing tank, reel, scissors, and film are all zipped into this light-tight bag. If you shoot large format film it is also perfect for loading your film slides.
Measuring JugYou will be measuring and mixing up your developer, stop and fixer in this. Two or three make for a smoother operation, but you could manage with one. 1 litre jugs are sufficient if you’re developing one or two rolls. Paterson tanks need 300ml of liquid to cover a roll of 35mm film and 600ml for 120.
Depending on which developer you use, you might want a graduate in small increments to measure it out. Syringes are also useful for smaller amounts of chemicals.
This is to make sure your chemistry is the right temperature. Getting the temperature right is important, particularly for the developer. We would recommend choosing the Paterson Colour Thermometer, even if you’re only interested in black and white right now, as it is useful to have if you decide to process your own colour film in the future.
Fixer and Stop bath can be used repeatedly once mixed up to a working dilution. It makes sense to buy some storage bottles to keep these in. They will be ready to use the next time you process film. Some developers, such as ID 11, can be used several times as well.
Squeegee or Chamois Leather
Both of these are optional, a lot of people are happy to use their fingers to remove the excess water when the film comes out of the wetting agent. If a Squeegee picks up dirt it can leave scratches down the length of the film. The emulsion on film is very is quite soft when wet and it doesn’t take much to scratch it.
This is to open up the 35mm film canister in order to load it onto the reel. A bottle opener will work just as well.
You can tear the film with your fingers, but scissors will give it a straighter edge and make loading much easier.